Solar energy is one of the best established sources of renewable energy in India and the demand for the same is on the rise. Compared to the early 2000s, solar technology has advanced rapidly which has helped to increase the efficiency and to decrease the cost of solar panels. However, there is a lot of misinformation or myths circulating about solar power. In this article, we debunk these myths for you to have a clearer understanding about solar energy.
Solar panels do not work in cold snowy weather or when it is cloudy
Solar panels work on cloudy and cold days as the clouds do not entirely block sunlight. Depending on the density and type of the clouds, the amount of solar radiation will vary. Generation of solar energy can be significantly reduced during cloudy weather due to solar radiation being absorbed or reflected by the clouds; however, the solar panel will continue to convert all the available sunlight into electricity even during non-sunny days.
The energy used to manufacture solar panels is more than they produce
Solar panels are made of glass, aluminum, silicon and plastic and do not produce any emissions during use. The energy used to extract, manufacture and transport a product is called embodied energy. Typically, a solar panel generates enough energy to repay the embodied energy within 2 years. A well-made solar panel lasts up to 20-30 years and the payback time will reduce in the future due to improved manufacturing methods and better panel efficiency.
Solar panels are toxic and cannot be recycled
Older generation solar products used thin film or amorphous panels which contained trace amounts of cadmium. These panels became outdated due to the advancements in silicone crystalline solar cells. Electronic waste is a huge problem globally because almost all the consumer electronics such as mobile phones, television, etc. use many toxic elements. The amount of solar waste is relatively small as the modern silicone crystalline solar cells are encased in a polymer material with a glass and aluminum frame protection.
Solar panels do not work at all in high temperatures
The solar lights do not stop working at a specific temperature although the output is slightly reduced at high temperatures. The power rating of a solar panel is measured in a lab setting at 25 degrees; however, when it is exposed to sunlight, the solar cell temperature may increase to about 20 degrees above the average air temperature. Depending on the orientation of the panel, on a 25 degree Celsius day, the cell temperature could be around 45 degrees which will reduce the cell efficiency.
Solar street lights do not work during rainy season or during cloudy weather
Modern solar street lights use LiFePO4 batteries which work on 3.2 volts compared to the standard 12 volts of Lead acid batteries, the energy generated by solar panels even during rainy days is sufficient to charge the LiFePO4 battery, the charging speed will vary based on the intensity of sunlight. Even on a cloudy weather these modern solar street lights will turn on and the backup will be based on the amount of battery charged.
Solar panels are prone to damage from wind, rain and birds
Bird droppings on the solar panel can reduce the brightness of the lights and can be easily avoided by setting up a scarecrow near the panels to keep the birds away. Cleaning the panels every once in a while is recommended for better efficiency. Solar panels have toughened glass for protection and to avoid any physical damage. The panels are weatherproofed to withstand heavy winds, rain and storms and the solar light system is made up of only durable materials.
Not everyone can afford to own a solar power system
It is a common misconception that switching to solar power system is a luxury and not economically viable for everyone. The average cost of solar energy is becoming more and more affordable and accessible to all with the falling rates of the components and financing options like government subsidies and loans. Within a span of 5 to 7 years, the property owners can get a return on their investment and can avail free electricity for almost 20 years once the investment is recovered.
Installing solar is quite complicated and requires a lot of maintenance
Solar system installation is relatively simple as it is not connected to a grid. Solar lights require almost no maintenance and would only need to be cleaned to remove any dust or debris collection on the panels. Solar power system is designed to withstand any harsh weather and constructed with durable materials. Solar panels do not have any cables or any moving parts so very little maintenance is required. Only large debris needs to be removed, otherwise a simple cleaning once or twice a year is necessary to attain maximum output.
Solar panels cause damage to your roof
In the contrary, solar panels actually protect and preserve the roof they cover. The panels can be easily removed if necessary as they are not directly attached to the roof and are only mounted on top of it. It is important to ensure the roof is damage-free before mounting the solar panels and the slope of the roof determines the efficiency of solar panels and facilitates drainage of water during rainy season. A professional can inspect the roof to determine the weight the roof can withstand and if there is any need for providing additional support.
Solar panel prices are based on the size of the property
Price of solar panels depends on their efficiency as the panels are designed to fit the specific needs of each and every one. It is important to pay attention to the slope and orientation of the roof when determining the cost of panel installation. The surrounding area of installation also needs to be considered to make sure there is direct access to sunlight and the area is not obstructed by surrounding buildings or trees. The panel cost also depends on how much electricity the property uses.
If we can use clean coal, why do we need to invest in solar energy?
Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant form of renewable energy while coal is considered one of the dirtiest fossil fuels. Coal mining causes a lot of human health concerns and creates more damage to the environment. Coal also increases the levels of mercury in the environment and also causes carbon pollution. No greenhouse gas emissions are released with the use of solar panels and it is absolutely safe to use solar energy.